Congratulations! You’ve signed on the line and now you’re the proud owner of a new home. The stress of finding the right house, getting approved for financing, negotiating with a seller are behind you. But if you’ve ever moved before, even just from apartment to apartment, you’ll know there may yet be some headaches ahead. To make it easier on yourself, it’s helpful to have a checklist to follow when moving out of one home and into another. There’s a lot to do during this transitional time, but with this list you’ll be able to breathe a little easier.
Before You Move
Somethings simply can’t be done until the day you actually move into your new house. But there is a lot you can do while still in your old home, and a lot to help you prep for the actual task of moving.
Start collecting boxes. In fact, you can, maybe should, start this before you’ve even closed on your new home. We live in the Amazon age - and chances are both you and the people you know do a lot of ordering online. Start hanging on to those shipping boxes, especially the medium the larger size ones. Ask your friends and family to do the same
(The medium boxes are great for heavier items like books or pots and pans. The larger ones for bedding or clothes. And remember not to over pack - someone will have to pick up and move the boxes eventually.) You can also start saving bubble wrap, shipping paper and newspaper. These are all items you’ll want to pack up your fragile items. If you don’t have enough boxes, try calling up local grocery or home improvement stores to see if you can snag some free boxes from them before they’ve thrown them out.
Once you’ve set your moving date, it’s time to start thinking about movers. Or rental vans if you’re planning on moving yourself. Call around to different companies and ask about pricing as well as availability. If it’s a busy time of year, you may find that there’s no availability for the dates you want if you want too long to call. Another good idea, whether you’re moving yourself or hiring movers, is to pack by room and clearly label the boxes on multiple sides. The last thing you’ll feel like doing when getting settled in your new house is running boxes from room to room because they ended up in the wrong place.
Change Your Address
Even if you opt for electronic statements for every one of your bills, it’s still important to update your address in the right places. The USPS makes it easy to change your address online and have your mail forwarded. You can even set a specific date for the forwarding to start. But changing your address with the post office isn’t going to be the only update you need to make. You’ll want to update your mailing address with the utility companies, credit cards, insurance, your employer and your doctors. (If you’re moving to a new area, you can request a copy of your medical records for your new doctor.) You’ll also need to change your address on your driver's license, voter registration and with any other bills, magazines or subscriptions.
Collect Important Papers
Before you get too deep into the packing process, it’s a good idea to gather important paperwork into one place. Find any and all birth and marriage certificates, social security cards, title and mortgage paperwork, insurance and bank accounts and collect them all into one place. This is the perfect opportunity to buy a small safe or filing cabinet to keep all these important documents together and safe.
Moving is stressful - there are a lot of decisions to make, to do list items to remember and last minute expenses. But it does provide some opportunities. Many of us hold on to too much stuff, and most of us probably don’t clean our ovens and refrigerators nearly often enough. Moving is just the nudge we need to do both of these. We can sort through and toss what we don’t need while we’re packing - and we can give our appliances a good cleaning. So disconnect the gas, defrost the freezer and scrub everything down. Start fresh with a new home and shiny (if not new) appliances.
For most utility companies, you can simply change your account from one address to the next. But whether you’re changing service areas, or just addresses, you’ll want to set up a date for the final meter readings. If you’re canceling internet and cable, you may have cable boxes or internet routers to return to the company. You don’t want to be surprised with a bill for a box you forgot to return.
After You Move
The list of things to do in your new home is probably endless. There are cosmetic updates to make it feel like yours as well as bigger changes you’d like to make. But there are also a few things you might want to bump to the top of your list once all the moving day dust has settled.
Change Your Locks
Owning a home represents a lot to most of us. It means independence, it means building a place all your own, an oasis from the stress of work - our house is the place we feel the most comfortable. How can you build that perfect space when you don’t know who has access to it? Remember, when the seller hands you your keys, those may not be the only copies in the world. Perhaps they gave a set to an old neighbor, or a handyman who did work while they were out. Have your locked changed by a professional, and know that the only keys that can access your home are your own.
There is no better time to give your house a thorough cleaning than when your boxes are packed and your rugs are rolled up and your furniture is gathered together. You may have liked the previous owner, but you don’t know exactly how they lived. It’s one thing to be living in your own mess, but quite another to live in someone else’s. Give your home a scrubbing, start off with a sparkling surfaces and get cozy in your home without having to wonder what exactly is in the dust bunnies under the radiators or in the closet corners.
Check Smoke Detectors
Most fire safety information recommends changing the batteries on your smoke detectors every spring. But in case the previous owners didn’t keep up with fire safety, it’s not a bad idea to simple replace the batteries and double check that your home’s smoke and CO detectors are working correctly. And while you’re updating your smoke detectors, make sure you have a working fire extinguisher, especially near the kitchen. Not only can a fire be physically and emotionally devastating, but it could cause serious damage to the value of your new home.
Find Shut Off Valves & Circuit Breakers
Even if you’re buying a brand new home, some things are bound to go wrong eventually. The easiest way to prevent damage from getting out of hand is to know where the shut off valves are. Look for both the shut off valves to the individuals sinks and toilets in your home and the main shut off for all water coming in. It’s also important to know where your circuit breakers are. It’s no fun to be feeling the walls in the dark hoping to find the breaker box.
Hopefully this list has given you some clarity and helped making moving a little less stressful. To make it even easier to follow, we’ve added a printable checklist that you can download and use to make moving easier. Let us know if you find it useful!